Find a Florida Brain Injury Lawyer to Fight for Your Legal Rights
Most people have bumped their heads from time to time, whether by accident or in a sporting event. Bumps on the head can be painful, especially right after the incident, and the pain may continue for a few days along with a bruise or visible lump on the head. Some of these minor head bumps could lead to further difficulties, but overall, such injuries are short-lived and do not cause permanent damage. But when more severe head injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), are sustained, the consequences go far beyond a bump on the head.
TBIs can be some of the most debilitating injuries a person can experience. Not only is there physical pain, but there is often permanent damage that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Whether a TBI is suffered because of a car accident, a workplace accident, a construction accident, a slip, trip, and fall accident or an act of medical malpractice, the aftermath is equally devastating and life-changing. TBIs also have the potential to lead to secondary injuries and medical conditions, such as chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, inability to sleep, and anger problems.
When a person suffers a TBI because of another’s negligent or intentional behavior, the injured victim has a right to seek justice by filing a lawsuit. The true cost of a TBI can ruin a person’s life in more ways than one, but getting the compensation you deserve can make recovery from this injury easier. Whether you or someone you know has suffered a TBI, if someone else is to blame, it’s important to act quickly by contacting a brain injury attorney. Florida victims can get a free case evaluation by contacting the experienced attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP today.
Understanding Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very broad type of injury that can be unique from person to person. TBIs can range in severity from very minor to catastrophic or even fatal; the consequences of a TBI may be different for a person suffering from a mild concussion as opposed to a person who sustains blunt-force trauma to the head in a car accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury.”
Many “bumps” on the head may be painful. However, not all “bumps” will result in a TBI. It takes a thorough evaluation by a medical professional to determine if a patient has suffered a TBI. Often, symptoms of a TBI are not evident immediately following an injury. For example, football players may have sudden jolts to the head that cause or contribute to a TBI that goes undiagnosed for days, months or even years. The same may be true for individuals who sustain head injuries in an isolated accident. As such, it’s important that any person involved in an accident seek medical attention as soon as possible to evaluate a potential head injury.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The symptoms of a TBI can be the same as symptoms associated with other medical conditions that have nothing to do with a head injury, so many patients may be suffering from a TBI and not even know it. According to the CDC, symptoms of a TBI include the following:
- Difficulty with concentration, memory, listening, and the ability to learn new things
- Exhaustion and lethargy
- Blurry or fuzzy vision
- Nausea and/or vomiting, often appearing early on after suffering a TBI
- Feeling dizzy
- Sensitivity to light and noise, which may accompany a headache
- Emotional or mental changes, such as feeling irritable, nervous, angry, and/or depressed
- Sleep changes, such as sleeping more than usual, sleeping during the day or difficulty falling asleep
Depending on the nature of the TBI and how serious the injury is, a patient may experience symptoms right away or days, weeks or months following the date of the injury. Therefore, anyone who has sustained a head injury or has a loved one who has suffered a head injury should be aware of the symptoms associated with a TBI so that it can be treated properly.
Concussions are common in the United States and are often associated with TBIs that have long-lasting consequences. Although rare, some concussions have the potential to cause blood clots that can be fatal if not treated right away. Having a blood clot in the brain is extremely dangerous and can quickly cause a person’s brain to swell. According to the CDC, symptoms of a blood clot associated with a concussion include:
- A severe headache that will not go away
- Slurred speech
- Chronic vomiting and/or nausea
- Decreased coordination and balance
- Numbness and weakness throughout the body
When in doubt, a person suffering any symptom of a TBI or blood clot to the brain should seek medical attention right away, as the consequences can be permanent and sometimes fatal.
Florida Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Statistics
Hundreds of thousands of individuals experience TBIs in Florida each year. In 2014 alone, 176,007 people suffered from a TBI, with 3,852 of those individuals dying because of their injuries. Another 21,081 of these individuals were hospitalized for their injuries, and 151,058 of those with TBIs in 2014 were released from a medical center after undergoing treatment in the emergency room.
Elderly individuals are always at a greater risk of falling than individuals in other age groups, meaning that they’re also at higher risk of sustaining a TBI. In Florida, the majority of TBI-related deaths occurred in individuals ages 85 and older. TBI victims between the ages of 75 and 84 are more likely to be hospitalized than any other age group. However, TBIs are certainly not limited to our elderly population: Individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for the majority of TBI-related emergency room visits.
It’s essential to keep in mind that many people who sustain a TBI do not seek any treatment, so these individuals are not accounted for in the statistics. Given that fact, the true number of TBIs sustained each year in Florida could easily exceed 200,000. Additionally, many individuals suffering from TBIs may also be suffering from other injuries or illnesses that make it challenging to diagnose the cause of a patient’s symptoms.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury in Florida
In Florida, the majority of fatal TBIs are associated with firearm-related injuries (such as a gunshot wound to the head). Unintentional falls are the foremost cause of TBIs for individuals who are hospitalized for their injuries. Regardless of age, any fall can result in a TBI if the person falling cannot protect their head; after all, most of us do not wear helmets while walking or driving. A TBI can be sustained at any time in the blink of an eye, just as a car accident can occur without warning in a matter of seconds.
Other frequent causes of TBIs, aside from blunt-force trauma to the head and falls, are sports-related head injuries, such as concussions sustained while playing football. Repeated bumps on the head may result in a TBI even if the individual bumps on the head are not severe. With a sport like football, most players bump their heads at least once every game, which could contribute to the development of a TBI. In fact, many NFL players have been diagnosed with TBIs that developed after years of blows and bumps to the head, demonstrating that a TBI can be sustained immediately or gradually.
Filing a Traumatic Brain Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
If a person suffers a TBI because of an auto accident, slip and fall accident in a nursing home or workplace accident, that person may be entitled to compensation. To pursue a Florida personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit for a TBI, the injured individual (or representative of a deceased victim) must prove that another person or party negligently caused the TBI. For example, if an intoxicated driver causes an accident that results in another driver or passenger sustaining a TBI, the TBI victim can hold the drunk driver accountable by filing a lawsuit.
While it’s impossible to guarantee the outcome of a particular lawsuit, if it’s clear that negligent conduct caused a person to suffer injuries and these injuries resulted in measurable damages, the injured individual has a good chance of recovering compensation. Measurable damages include pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and loss of a chance to earn money in the future because of an inability to work. When you discuss your case with a qualified attorney at Parker Waichman, we’ll help you get an idea of your potential financial recovery.
Deadlines for Lawsuits Alleging Traumatic Brain Injuries
Florida law places limitations on how much time a person has to file a lawsuit, and these limitations vary depending on the type of lawsuit being filed. In Florida, an injured person must usually file a personal injury lawsuit no later than four years after an injury is sustained. However, because it’s not always easy to determine if a person has a TBI until days, weeks or months after an accident happens, you’re allowed four years from the date you became aware that a TBI was caused by a prior accident to file a lawsuit with the help of a Florida brain injury attorney. For example, if a person is involved in a car accident but does not experience symptoms of a TBI until two months after the accident, they will have four years from the date of the diagnosis of their TBI to file a lawsuit.
If a person suffers a fatal TBI, a representative of the victim’s estate (usually a surviving spouse or adult child) must file a wrongful death lawsuit no later than two years after the victim’s date of death. The statute of limitations is very strict, and it’s unlikely that an exception will apply that allows a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed more than two years later.
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for injury victims to wait too long to speak with an attorney. When the time allowed to file a claim has run out, there’s simply nothing an attorney can do to help, and this can be devastating for severely injured individuals. Therefore, acting quickly to speak with a Florida traumatic brain injury lawyer after sustaining a TBI is important to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Pursuing a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuit in Florida: What to Expect
When pursuing legal action with a traumatic brain injury attorney, Florida injury victims should expect the process to take well more than a year, with some lawsuits lasting three or more years. But while the process can be slow, the result is well worth it if an injury victim can receive compensation for their suffering. Individuals who have suffered a TBI should expect to go through the following process when considering and pursuing legal action:
- Initial Consultation: Every case starts with a free consultation with an attorney to discuss the basic facts of the case and possible legal options under Florida law.
- Case Decision: After the consultation, the attorney will review the potential case and decide to accept or reject the case. If a case is rejected, the attorney will explain the reason for rejection.
- The Lawsuit: Once both the attorney and client decide to move forward with legal action, a lawsuit is filed. Depending on the facts of the case, it may be possible to seek resolution or settlement of the case before going to court.
- Discovery: After a lawsuit is filed, the parties exchange information about the allegations in the case (e.g., medical records, accident reports, policies and procedures, and witness statements), take depositions of witnesses and experts, and produce reports. The discovery process can take a very long time, as significant information is needed to prepare for trial.
- Mediation or Settlement Negotiations: Settlement is often discussed throughout the entire process, especially if mediation is involved, but cases are typically not settled until closer to trial, after the parties have gathered extensive evidence about the plaintiff’s injuries and what caused those injuries.
- Trial: If a case has not settled by the time the trial begins, then the case will be heard before a jury. Settlement negotiations may continue during the trial, with some cases settling right before the case goes to the jury for a decision. A trial is typically scheduled at least a year after a lawsuit is filed.
- Appeal: After the jury has returned a verdict, the losing party may appeal the decision, and the entire appeals process can take two or more years to conclude.
Because the legal process is lengthy, many cases settle before trial, especially when it is unclear what a jury will decide after hearing all of the facts. Many clients agree to settle claims before going to trial because there is more certainty that they will receive compensation. However, the decision to go to trial is ultimately up to the injured client, and this decision should be discussed thoroughly with an attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Traumatic Brain Injuries
Can a TBI Get Worse Over Time?
Sometimes. Because there are varying degrees of TBIs, a qualified physician must perform a physical examination of a patient as well as diagnostic testing to determine the type and severity of the TBI. If it’s a mild concussion, symptoms may subside, and the injured individual could make a full recovery. However, if the TBI is more severe, symptoms could worsen over time.
What if I Do Not Know if Someone Else Is at Fault for My TBI?
Finding the person or party responsible for causing a TBI is not always easy, especially if there are multiple parties involved. Therefore, a person who has suffered a TBI must first speak with an attorney before determining who is to blame. For example, if someone slips, trips or falls in a grocery store and sustains a severe TBI, the responsible party could be the grocery store itself, the store manager, an employee or even a fellow customer. The specific facts of an accident will help to determine who, if anyone, is responsible for a person’s TBI.
Are TBIs Permanent?
Some TBIs are permanent. The more severe a TBI is, the more likely it is that the TBI will be permanent. However, every person is different, so it’s difficult to anticipate whether a TBI will improve over time or stick around forever. Also, while a TBI itself may be permanent, the symptoms may not be, so with proper medical treatment, symptoms may be managed in such a way that a permanent TBI is not as noticeable.
How Much Money Am I Likely to Receive From a TBI Settlement?
It depends. The more severe a TBI is, the more damage that the TBI is likely to have caused the victim, so if they are successful in obtaining compensation from a settlement or jury verdict, the amount of compensation is likely to be commensurate with the severity of the injury. For example, a person who is unable to work because of a severe TBI and has chronic symptoms is likely to receive more compensation than an individual who has a TBI but is still able to function normally in their day-to-day life.
Work With a Top Brain Injury Lawyer in Florida to Get the Compensation You Deserve
Parker Waichman is a nationally recognized law firm that provides legal representation to injury victims and their loved ones throughout the United States. With a large client base in Florida, our highly skilled Florida personal injury attorneys have seen how tragic and debilitating traumatic brain injuries can be and how such injuries are not always visible to the naked eye, and we’re here to help victims of TBI to get the compensation they need to improve their lives.
At Parker Waichman, we’ve recovered more than $2 billion for our clients through verdicts and settlements, and we have the dedication and resources to fight hard for every client to ensure their fair and just compensation. Our firm has received many honors and accolades, including a 9.8/10 rating from AVVO, a listing in Best Lawyers, and Martindale-Hubbell’s coveted “AV Preeminent” peer-review rating, due to our law firm’s success in providing superior legal representation to our clients. But the most important achievements we’ve earned have been the numerous positive reviews we’ve received from our clients. Our Bonita Springs office has built a sterling reputation, and people across the state know that they can count on us for skilled advocacy when they need a brain injury attorney in Florida.
Free Consultation Today
If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury, it’s important to act quickly if you believe another person or party is to blame, as waiting too long to speak with an attorney after sustaining a TBI can bar you from filing a lawsuit against the responsible party. At Parker Waichman, our Florida personal injury attorneys have years of experience handling cases that involve severe and debilitating TBIs. With the support of our legal team, you can gain a good understanding of your legal options, and we’ll evaluate your case for free with no obligation. To get a free consultation with an experienced brain injury lawyer in Florida, in either English or Spanish, just call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
New York | Brooklyn | Queens | Long Island | New Jersey | Florida
Call us at: 1-800-YOURLAWYER (800-968-7529) | Schedule your free consultation
Have you or a loved one sustained a traumatic brain injury?Click To Get A Free Case Review